Monday, April 22, 2013

Paint Out at Columbia Museum of Art's Boyd Plaza illustrates plein air paintings as Impressionists did it

Saturday morning the plaza leading to Columbia Museum of Art's entrance was teeming with art patrons scurrying to see The Impressionists: Monet to Matisse on its last weekend in Columbia. One art lover had driven up from Augusta, GA to see the popular show. Some wandered up from Soda City, the Saturday morning farmers market set up in the museum block of Main Street. To reach the entrance to the museum, patrons meandered through an art scene whose living subjects were  painting in plein air, just as the Impressionists did. So, even before they entered the museum to view master works painted in plein air, they were able to see live demonstrations of how plein air painting works. The artists, painting what was within their immediate line of sight, including live model Brittany Yongue in period attire, generously stopped and answered questions, then continued on with their work. They are part of About Face, an affiliate of Columbia Museum of Art. This smaller, spin-off group goes once a month on a Paint Out, to a pre-selected location where they devote a morning to painting in plein air. Most complete, just in those few hours, a fully-developed painting. When they pack up their paints, brushes and easels, they adjourn and, over lunch, critique each other's work in order to continue growing stronger in their art. For information on About Face, contact the Columbia Museum of Art.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mak Conrardy takes TAG Best of Show then goes straight to Elmwood Park for its tour of homes

No laurel-resting for Mark Conrardy this past weekend. Friday evening he learned his Catalano’sTractor had taken the Best of Show award at the opening reception of Trenholm Art Guild’s 32nd annual exhibit, hosted at House of Frames and Paintings, 2828 Devine Street.  Early Saturday morning he was setting up supplies and art for the Elmwood Park Tour of Homes. Large easels bearing finished art work sprung up on the Kolb’s Park Street front porch, and in the homeowners’ flower beds. Stuck among hostas and flowering shrubs were some of Mark’s smaller paintings stationed on tabletop easels.  On the sidewalk he set up a painting in its early stages, showing passersby how he begins a piece of art.

Paint boxes, brushes and blank canvases were at hand on the chance he'd have a little slow time to get some work done.  As it turned out, though, his day was devoted to meeting old friends and prospective art lovers, answering questions and receiving congratulations (including a hearty handshake from Mayor Steve Benjamin who sauntered by).
Although the works he displayed for those strolling Elmwood Park’s sidewalks included landscapes and a variety of other subjects, his tractor theme was prominently in evidence. The annual home tour featured eight homes and/or businesses along with three gardens, chef demonstrations and wine tastings, pedi-cabs and horse and carriage rides through a neighborhood that is a finalist in the national Neighborhood of the Year designation.

“I first painted a tractor a couple of years ago during a Paint Out at Barbara Yongue’s home in Blair,” Conrardy recalled. He is a regular with a spin-off group from About Face, a Columbia Museum of Art affiliate that draws and paints from live models.  Members of that smaller group paint in plein air, usually the third Saturday of each month, to hone their skills and perpetuate the artistic legacies of Impressionistic artists. (Note: Saturday, April  20, the plein air painters will be at easels in front of the Columbia Museum of Art, doing their best impressions of the Impressionists. CMA’s stunning exhibition Impressionism from Monet to Matisse closes Sunday.)
After the first large tractor painting, executed in only a morning in a back pasture on the Yongue’s farm, Mark painted quite a few more, each from a different angle, with a goal of capturing a tractor (and he’s had more than one “model”) from all its vantage points. His most recent piece has a very abstract quality about it.

Mark’s Catalano’s Tractor was the last work of art to receive a ribbon at the TAG reception. Juror Jane Smithers noted that his piece had “the most creative approach to subject matter with a delightful sense and balance of color and light.”
Ribbons also were pinned to Mary Hartfield’s painting Southern Blossoms and Lee Sipe’s three-dimensional Vessel No. 368, both First Place winners. Renea Eshleman’s vibrant painting Canna Surprise took second place, along with Rita Ruth Cockrell’s Remembrances, in the Three-Dimensional and Photography category. Third place ribbons were given to Barbie Mathis for her painting Hand-Knitted and to Ed Shmunes for his photograph, Trio.  Merit awards, both for paintings, went to Juanita Yancey for Once Upon a Time and Naomi Woods for Floating Daffodils. Donna Reid’s Heron in a Tree and Meg Gregory’s Faith received Honorable Mention.

Go by House of Paintings and Frames QUICKLY! The TAG show ends today (Friday, April 19). You don’t want to miss it!



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Helene Berr, A Stolen Life Exhibition opens at Richland Library

Erica Safron (left), USC Honors student completing, this semester, her degree requirements in the department of Biological Sciences, welcomed to Columbia's Richland Library last evening (Wednesday, April 10, 2013) Deborah Farnault,  right) of the Memorial de la Shoah, Paris, France. Farnault, U.S. Correspondent and head of touring exhibitions in North America, traveled to Columbia from Paris, as did Jacques Fredj, Executive Director of Memorial de la Shoah, for the opening of the elucidating exhibition Helene Berr, A Stolen Life. Behind Erica and Deborah is the iconic image of Berr, a young French Jew whose WWII diary pages surfaced only in recent years. The exhibition, curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, and designed, created and circulated by the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris, is on view on the street level, Richland Library, 1431 Assembly Street. Outside Paris and the United Nations, Columbia is only the second venue for the provocative exhibition.
Safron is credited with Columbia's hosting of the exhibition, which is comprised of texts, photographs and other paper artifacts. Struck by scholarly and chronological parallels she shared with the young French woman whose life ended in the Holocaust, Safron was able to delve deeply into the details of this short, then stolen life during her study abroad semester in Paris. A scholarship, given by local Francophiles Dr. John Kososki and his wife, Carol Kososki of Columbia, made Safron's study abroad experience possible.
Safron was rewarded that her efforts, to bring the exhibition to Columbia, were appreciated when the Bostick Auditorium filled to capacity and additional chairs had to be brought in before her Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin welcomed audience members and Safon's thesis advisor, Dr. Theodore Rosengarten gave the keynote lecture of the evening. Rosengarten, who teaches both at USC Honors College and the College of Charleston revealed the story of Helene Berr as well as the provenance of the diary, which he compared to the better-known diary of Anne Frank.
The audience also paid rapt attention to closing remarks from Denis Barber, Consul General of France to the U.S. Southeast, and Fredj, who leads the organization that developed and is circulating the exhibit. Melanie Huggins, Executive Director of Richland Library welcomed attendees, introduced each speaker, and announced that the exhibit would remain on view until May 10. The audience was populated by interested community members along with representatives from sponsors: the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust, Alliance Francaise de Columbia, USC European Studies Program, USC Jewish Studies program and the Lourie Law Firm, LLC.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pipin' as Art

The promise of hearing the skirling of bagpipes and seeing kilts and tartans drew me to the edge of the Congaree today (Sunday), and the opportunity to worship outdoors on a gorgeous Columbia Spring morn made the drive across the Gervais Street Bridge something The Eagles would call a Peaceful Easy Feeling.
The promise was being kept by the processing Palmetto Pipes and Drums when a child noticed something overhead, and pointed to the sky where, just over the bridge, two planes flying training exercises had left a contrails cross in the sky. For a moment everyone in the service shaded their eyes and gawked in wonder at the pilots’ unexpected thumbs up. We were all right where we were supposed to be at that moment.
Worship at the edge of the Congaree River was the finale of the weekend-long Tartan Fest South. Chaplain Nicolas Tyler, a recent graduate of Erskine College, called worshippers together for the colorful service that perpetuated Scotland’s four centuries- old tradition and an act of defiance.

According to the Rev. Les Holmes, after the Battle of Culloden, April 16, 1746, English parliament banned all Scottish traditions that could fuel  the formidable Scottish spirit. To weaken the Gaelic culture and attack the Scottish clan system, England forbade Scots to speak Gaelic, dance the Highland Fling or Scottish country dances or play Scottish music, including bagpipes.

Defiant not to relinquish their heritage, Scots came to their kirks (churches) with swatches of their clans’ tartans (plaids) hidden from view. At a predetermined pause during the worship service, swatches were brought out briefly and were blessed by the clergy who rendered a prayer for the protection of the clan.  Tartans were, and are still, woven in patterns - and especially colors - that represent threads of a family’s history. The Kirkin’ O’ Tartans continues today as a reminder of Scots’ determination and allegiance to their culture.

Holmes called the first Kirkin’ The Ultimate Family Affair, in part because heads of households risked even death by hiding, somewhere in their clothing, a scrap of their tartans. Last Sunday, against a backdrop of tartans representing Columbia families, along with flags of Irish counties, Holmes emphasized faith, family and future.

Early Columbia was heavily populated by Scots and Irish who came to this country for a chance at a better life. Many of their descendants are still around as leaders in today’s local civic affairs, which include the arts.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Columbia artist Bonnie Goldberg has new work currently on view at Aiken Center for the Arts, located in downtown Aiken on Laurens Street. The artist's highly collectable, evocative figurative work, characterized by graceful gestural strokes representing the female form, has one piece that is slightly contradictive of her usual output, slightly more abstract and angular when viewed side by side the other paintings populating this dynamic show. A visit to this gallery is a great opportunity to see a wealth of the popular artist's latest work. This show will remain on view until late this month (April). For hours and details, including directions for I-20, go to Aiken Center for the Art website.